After a few days of riding in Crested Butte, Scott, Lee and I decided on a loop for bikepacking. The exact route was not really known, but we had a general idea of where we would be going...east toward Crystal Mountain and then to the south toward Gunnison.
We headed out from our condo with a map and an idea on the Upper Loop
Techy? Yes, please!
Right, like I said, we had a general idea of where we were going. Bikepacking in the purist form can be what you want it can be, slow or fast, planned or unplanned....the list can continue. We were choosing slow and plan-as-you-go.
The Lat-40 map was consulted periodically to confirm route details.
A lack of rain has meant a "mediocre wildflower season." That is not to say they are not out and available to enjoy.
We headed on Bush Creek toward Crystal Mountain (shown below in white).
Most of the trails/roads before this section were a reasonable grade.
This all changed as we Double Top Tr.
We took lunch near the steepest climb of the day...
Here is Lee pushing his bike up to the pass on Double Top. Scott had a pretty valiant effort trying to climb this section. Nearly all of the trails we rode are moto trails also. The trail builders have an interesting love for concrete (cinder) blocks. If the grade is above ~17% in this are, it is bound to be paved with these blocks.
The blocks work well in some areas while others might just benefit from some switchbacks.
Crystal Mountain is simply stunning....Scott was all smiles despite the steep climb.
Double Top was a thing of beauty from the beginning. The trail began to climb only to descend only to climb through some beautiful meadows. With very little Colorado singletrack riding experience, I was in singletrack heaven.
The trail had some serious trail improvement for the first few miles.
Including some table-tops done to raise the trail in the forest areas.
Moto trails are still moto trails though...although Double Top did not disappoint. As with any moto trail, you need to have a little sense of adventure and a gearing that works (20x36 would be ideal).
After Double Top, we descended Waterfall and rode to Cement Creek. I had an unlucky moment where I hit a rock on a curvy section of trail, burped the front tire and went flying. Scott will probably post up some good photos of the dirty aftermath.
We went down Cement Creek to Deadman's Pass, famous for its steep, switchback climbs. The switchback-dab game was on between Scott and I. After 5 hours of riding on a fully loaded bike, it was gonna be a tough climb.
Each time, one of us yelled to the other, "Did you clean that one?"
Followed by a "you know it."
Unfortunately no bets were made...but the winner did barely win by a margin of 1 dab.
As the sun began to set, so came the rain.
And with the rain came some beautiful lighting. I tried ti capture it the best I could, but sometimes it is hard to capture when you have such a large 360-view. This was the best moment of the trip, truly confirming one reason why we bikepacking...the evenings and mornings on the bike.
It began to rain on us right was we decided to set up camp on a surreal meadow named Julie Andrews from the Sound of Music.
The 4-person Black Diamond Mega Light tent came in handy. We tied the tent to the top of the tree instead of bringing the extra carbon fiber pole. We fit everyone under the tent while it rained. I'd recommend it for anyone that bikepacks/backpacks, especially if you do some group bikepacking trips.
The sun woke us up in such a brilliant way. It truly was a perfect camping spot. The tent really aided in a restful night of sleep.
The Leviathan 4.0 bike and Carousel Designs setup
Down Julie Andrews Meadow....
...and on to Rosebud. Once again, these early morning bikepacking moments attest to the glory of bikepacking.
After Rosebud, we started the climb to Dr. Park, the once Gunnison Spur of the Colorado Trail. The climb up had some good views of where we had slept along with the previous day ride.
Although the real treat came in the form of the descent on the other side. Dr. Park is one of the best descents in CO. It seemed to go on foveeeeeverrrrrr. The descent was made better by having the perfect grade (pedaling was never required for the most part) and there were evenly placed water bars.
Scott's face says it all. It is tradition to yell on sick singletrack. There was a lot going on while descending this fine piece of trail. It is, without a doubt, my favorite descent in CB.
The descent continued with some recently, upgrade switchbacks to Granite Campground and a few B-lines if you knew they were coming (we missed one). We ate lunch in Harmel's before continuing on.
We headed to Jack's Cabin Cuttoff and had to put in a few highway miles before rolling up Caves Trail via Cement Rd.
More views and switchbacks abound on Caves. What is not to like about CB....steep riding with sweet views!?
From Caves, we veered north toward Crested Butte on Farris Trail. It is hard to think of a better way to end a bikepacking trip than on this rocky goodness.
The recap of the 2-day loop
The total miles was 77 with 16,400 feet of climbing.
Here is the route: Upper Loop-Whetsone-Brush Creek Rd-Double Tr-Waterfall-Cement Creek Rd-Deadman's Pass-Cement Mtn Tr-Rosebud-Dr. Park-Jack's Cabin Cuttoff-Highway-Caves-Farris-Bike Path back to town.
There are tons of options to add to the loop. Check out the Lat 40 map of Crested Butte.